Eliza Park echoes Patinack Farm woes

Article from Business Review Weekly

SHE may have retired earlier this year, but there is still no bigger name in Australian racing than Black Caviar, the champion sprinter who won all 25 races she contested.

Black Caviar’s popularity and renown reflects on her family, and perhaps most of all on her dad (or sire, as it’s called in the racing game), the great stallion Bel Esprit.

A former crack sprinter himself, Bel Esprit has sired 377 winners of more than $33 million in prize money, and the link to Black Caviar makes him hot property.

But not hot enough to help the owners of Bel Esprit, the Fleming family.

They are former members ofBRW’s Rich List and the owners of the horse stud Eliza Park.

After putting Eliza Park and its 12 stallions (including Bel Esprit) up for sale in March, the business has collapsed into receivership and is now in the hands of insolvency firm PPB.

Lee Flemingtold BRW in Marchthat he wanted to sell the business to give his 24-year-old son Reis a clean start in the industry.

But it appears the company’s creditors have lost patience, putting the stud – which owns properties in Victoria and Queensland –into the hands of the corporate undertakers.

The business will continue to operate and while the receivers might face some challenges in selling the whole stud as a going concern, there is sure to be strong interest in individual assets – particularly Bel Esprit.

But the collapse of Eliza Park is worrying news for the broader thoroughbred industry and one man should be particularly concerned: Nathan Tinkler.

The former billionaire is currently trying to sell his own racing and breeding operation, Patinack Farm, which has properties in the Hunter Valley and on the Gold Coast, and initial reports suggested he could be looking for as much as $200 million.

But as yet, there hasn’t been a buyer. It’s starting to look like selling Patinack Farm on the“walk in walk out basis” that was initially advertisedis going to be very difficult, based on what we’ve seen at Eliza Park.

While Tinkler’s Hunter Valley property would be highly sought after in thoroughbred circles, and his operation is much larger than that of Eliza Park, there is an argument to be made that Patinack’s stallion roster lacks the sort of star quality of a Bel Esprit.

The market for an expensive, luxury purchase like a horse stud is limited at the best of times. As the Fleming family have learnt, it’s particularly limited in the current economic climate.

Nathan Tinkler will need patience and probably a much more realistic view of Patinack’s value if he is to get a deal done.


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